Late posting on Drygalski Fjord, Cooper Bay, Gold Harbor

on

Itinerary

  • Shoot, I can’t even remember now
  • So much the mind has melted

First off, I’m sorry I didn’t update last night. So much stuff has happened I couldn’t do anything but find my pillow. Today was more of the same. Let me back track, but it is going to be tough because the last 48 hours has been so action-packed my mind is blown!

I think we started off in Drygalski Fjord on the Southern-most part of South Georgia. We were inside a deep fjord were we drove straight up to the side of a giant glacier…you know, the touristy thing to do down here. It was incredible. Before driving to the glacier we spent the morning cruising around the fjord in zodiacs. I was able to snag another bird photo that I may use in the S2Ki photo contest this month. I’m still holding off to see if I get anything better, but I’m throwing modesty out the window and going with this is some tough stuff to beat.

Drygalski Glacier at the end of the fjord.  Elevation = way higher than the ship
Drygalski Glacier at the end of the fjord. Elevation = way higher than the ship

The afternoon absolutely whooped me. We drove through iceberg alley and ended up at Cooper Bay. We had the option of visiting an Elephant Seal beach with Gentoo Penguins, cruising around the beautiful bay by zodiac or climbing up a snowy slope to see Macaroni Penguins. I chose the latter. We climbed about 200 feet up in mud, snow, and Fur Seals. Gentoo Penguins were climbing beside us too. It was a surreal experience. Oh yeah, we also had to dodge an Elephant Seal Bull (about 3 tons of meat and teeth) who was not pleased to see us. It was either walk within 5 feet of the bull or climb into the teeth of about 20 Fur Seals who are much faster than we are. We chose the bull. When we finally got to the Macaroni colony we were buzzed by a few Light-Mantled Sooty Albatrosses (the Albatross Unicorn) and decided to find a better vantage point for photographing them. We climbed another 400 feet almost straight-up. Then a few of us decided to go even higher. We were pulling ourselves up by tussock grass and stumbled into a Giant Petral nesting ground – these are big nasty birds. Think of a bald eagle rat and you’re getting close to a Giant Petral. We quickly got out of their way and found a Sooty just sitting quietly on the cliff ledge. I’ll show those photos later – it was an experience I’ll never forget. Fortunately, for the way down, the snow was about knee deep so if made for some good butt-sledding and a 2 minute descent. On the way back to the ship we came across groups of Gentoo Penguins coming to shore in wave after wave.

Like shooting ducks in a barrel - Gentoo Penguins on approach
Like shooting ducks in a barrel - Gentoo Penguins on approach

The next morning was a dawn landing at 5:45 AM (2:45 AM EST) at Gold Harbor. I forgot to mention that I skipped dinner the night before because the Captain decided to play in iceberg alley at sunset – awesome! Then I skipped breakfast to spend almost 6 hours on the beach of Gold Harbor. Want to talk about mind-blowing! Thousands of Elephant Seals, tens of thousands of King Penguins, hundreds of Gentoo Penguins, and glaciers breaking into the ocean all in the same place. MIND-BLOWING!!! One of the naturalists said he couldn’t imagine a place where more life could be. To quote him: “I found a square foot of space where there wasn’t any animal life, and then a Skua landed there.” When I stopped to take photos King Penguin chicks approached me because they’re so curious. A Skua tried to fly off with my jacket. An elephant seal pup came over to sniff my boot. I actually had a moment with an Elephant Seal Bull where he had just been chased off by an alpha male and ended up next to me while I took a breather on a piece of ice (my bench). We just looked at each other in what seemed to be a friendly manner while keeping less than 10 feet distance from one another for about 20minutes. We both just sat there gazing at the scene like old pals. I think he was just happy the alpha male didn’t beat the snot out of him after he tried to make off with one of the alpha’s women.

Here are a few photos from Gold Harbor:

King Penguin Colony - shot at 200mm
A small part of the Gold Harbor King Penguin Colony - shot at 200mm
Walking a thin line between King Penguins and Elephant Seals
Walking a thin line between King Penguins and Elephant Seals
Thankfully they only eat seafood!  These guys were a constant threat while shooting
Thankfully they only eat seafood! These guys were a constant threat while shooting
I found a safer place to shoot from.  Lots of friends!
I found a safer place to shoot from. Lots of friends!
f2.8 and backlighting - yaaaay!  King Penguin at dawn.
f2.8 and backlighting - yaaaay! King Penguin at dawn.

Tomorrow is our last day on South Georgia and we’re starting early. I need to get some sleep. I promise to post more over our next few sea days.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Aaman says:

    Wonderful post – thank you – am subscribing to your RSS feed.

  2. nfrs2000nyc says:

    I have no words anymore. Boggles the mind.

  3. Mom says:

    Alex…Wow aint enough anymore…I can’t imagine. I will say I WOULD LIKE TO GO!
    Are those fuzzy brown ones babies???

  4. Cathy says:

    Alex,

    Beyond breathtaking.

  5. Mark Goooo Bailey says:

    Alex, they just don’t make enough words to describe the trip you are on. The stories, the photos, all incredible, stupendous, fabulous and so on and so on.

    WOW just isn’t good enough sir.

    Please be safe, soak all it in, even in your mind did melt in the freezing cold, you will have memories of this for the rest of your long life.

    Mark ;-))

    PS: buying two cars from the flag, and your wonderful staff are taking good care of me. So car sales may be slow, but I am trying to help the economy. lol Dionne is handling the first one for me.

  6. Jody DeVere says:

    I actually wondered today when your next post would hit my inbox…I am thoroughly enjoying your trip vicariously. Amazing photos.

    Jody DeVere
    CEO/President – Ask Patty, Inc.
    http://www.askpatty.com
    http://www.carblabber.com

  7. Kelly Jones says:

    Do you think you can sneak an Oakum boy back through Customs for me? It almost feels cold enough for them here this week.

  8. axspot says:

    Sorry about not responding earlier – I lost my connection. I’m not sure how long this session is going to last because we’re in some bouncy seas right now.

    I forgot to throw one in my camera bag Kelly – they are some fun birds though! My favorite is still the Rock Hopper penguin – they’re hilarious and we’re on our way back to their island now.

    Mark – Awesome! Congratulations times two!

    I’m keeping things short because I don’t know when I’ll be bumped offline again.

  9. LoataHakWaf says:

    I am here at a forum newcomer. Until I read and deal with the forum.
    Let’s learn!

  10. marthafines says:

    Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night.

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